Jazz Up Your Presentation: 6 Ways to Put an End to Ugly Charts and Graphs

Presentation ready charts and graphs

People often add charts and graphs to their presentation trying to make it more interesting. Unfortunately, most efforts to make it unique usually end up having the exact opposite effect.

Often, the enormous collection of slides with colorful presentation charts and graphs blows up your brain by the end of the presentation rather than arousing your interest in the data. You don’t want to be the person who puts his audience through this agonizing experience every time you fire up your laptop.

So, is there a way to jazz up your presentation with beautiful charts and graphs?

The short answer to this question is ‘Yes.’ Here are 6 ways to improve your presentation charts and graphs to effortlessly strengthen your message.

Refrain from Using Backgrounds

When it comes to decorating the graph background, you should avoid using gradients of color or varying the background color in any other way.

It not only undermines your ability to present the data unambiguously but also adds distraction. The context surrounding an object often influences our perception of it.

Don't use backgrounds with presentation charts and graphs

See the two graphs above, the grey background in the left graph doesn’t provide any information. On the contrary, it doesn’t contrast sufficiently with the object. As a result, it undermines the visibility of the objects in the graph. So, make sure the background is consistent with the slide background.

If you always use the default slide background, you should use ‘No Fill’ ‘or White’ background color as it matches the slide background.

Eliminate Redundant Labels

Why do you want to waste the space on redundant labels? Most graphs charts are quite self-explanatory. Repeated axis labels and legend are the two things that occupy the space for no reason.

In fact, they are taking up space that would be better spent on the graph. So, make sure to remove duplicate labels. The graph on the right looks better than the original graph to the left, as it is much easier to understand.

Eliminate redundant labels

Alternatively, you can also label the bars directly. However, if you do, remove the Y-axis completely. As the exact value of each element is displayed, you don’t need to use the grid lines either.

Label the bars directly

Mind the Border Formatting

When it comes to graphs and charts, less is more. You should format the graph background to reduce the lines as far as possible while retaining the meaning of the data presented in it.

Though the default gridlines and borders are a sensible choice, they are a distraction as your audience is most likely not interested in knowing the exact figures for each data point.

If you want to display exact values, label the bars directly as discussed in the previous point. Removing the lines highlights the data and the pattern dramatically. So, remove all of the outer borders as well as grid lines as shown below.

Border formatting

Use Colors Meaningfully

Contrary to the popular belief, you should avoid using bright colors for presentation charts and graphs as far as possible. In fact, you should use natural colors to display general information and use the bright color only to highlight information that demands attention.

Using same colored bars on a graph makes it easier to compare the data. Use different colors only if they correspond to different elements in the data.

Sometimes, however, you can use different colors to highlight particular data or assemble different parts. In other words, you need to use colors meaningfully and with caution. The following examples will help explain the points mentioned above.

A) Using Natural Colors for Easier Comparison

Use natural colors

B) Using Bright Colors to Pop Important Data

Use bright colors

C) Using Different Colors to Point out Differences in Data Elements

Use different colors

Avoid Using Special Effects (Shadowing and Shading)

Avoid using special effects such as shadowing, shading, and 3D effects when creating presentation charts and graphs, especially for professional purposes. They just make it hard to compare the elements and confuse the reader.

You should, however, stick to presenting only essential information. So, keep it simple and avoid flashy special effects.

Avoid using special effects

Text and Font

Using bold font isn’t going to make much difference in your graph. As far as possible, avoid using bold, underline or italic fonts. Keep the font size and type consistent throughout the presentation.

Avoid effects such as shading, outline, and 3D letters. Always lighten secondary data labels. The less you format the better.

Text and font on presentation charts and graphs

Have More Tips for Creating Better Presentation Charts and Graphs?

When it comes to creating an attention-grabbing presentation, the rule of thumb is to display the data in a simple and clear way.

With the help of these 6 tried and tested tips, your presentation charts and graphs will look phenomenal without compromising your data. What about you? What tricks have you used to make your graphs look unique? Feel free to share your ideas and suggestions in the comments box below.

About the Author

Swati Kapoor is a qualified dietitian at Practo. She has a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. She is a strong believer in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. As a responsible dietitian, Swati examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending any diet or workout regimen, because everybody has different requirements.

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